Local News

Federal Government Under Fire For Profiling Certain Ethnic Groups

Posted December 4, 2001

— If you fit a certain profile, the federal government may want to have a word with you.

Omar El-Haggan, a graduate student from N.C. State, fits the profile of an international student between the ages of 18 and 38 who recently came to the United States. He, along with others who fit the profile, could receive a letter from the federal government, asking them to voluntarily come in for questioning.

More than 5,000 letters have been mailed out.

"I am this age and I'm coming recently from a Muslim country or from a Middle Eastern country, but there's no evidence I did anything like that," El-Haggan said.

Debra Ross of the American Civil Liberties Union said the practice could violate state laws.

"In Oregon and Michigan, local law enforcement are not complying because either it violates state law or it violates good police practices," she said.

Hesham Abdelbaky, president of N.C. State's Muslim Association, said he believes the practice alienates people of Middle Eastern descent.

"Terrorist acts are committed by individuals, not by religion and not by an ethnic group," he said.

El-Haggan has not received a letter, but the thought of getting one makes him uneasy. A spokesman with the Islamic Association said none of the men in its congregation have been contacted by the federal government.


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